If you went to Sunday School as a child, you might remember that the first five books of the Old Testament are called the Books of the Law or the Pentateuch. In these books Moses started with creation and followed the origin of the Jewish race and the first few centuries of the history of the nation of Israel. Here’s a short summary for you –
- Genesis – It is the book of beginnings – the beginning of time, the human race and the chosen race, sin, prophecy, family, judgment and the promise of a Messiah. There were 4 major events – the creation, fall, flood and the start of nations. There were 4 very historic people – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. At the end of Genesis, the descendents of Abraham are in captivity in Egypt where they continued to live and to multiply for the next 350 years. Their population may have grown to a total of about two million people.
- Exodus – It is the book of deliverance – a story of the events which took place as Pharaoh denied them their freedom, God’s intervention through the plagues, their miraculous journey across the Red Sea, and the events at Mount Sinai. It was there that God graciously gave them their guidelines for living and the instructions for building the tabernacle, where He could dwell and His people could meet with Him. It was there that the sacrificial blood of the animals could be made for the sins of the people and their eyes could be opened to the promise of the coming of The Passover Lamb of God.
- Leviticus – It is the book about offerings and feasts. The way to God was through a blood sacrifice and the way to honor Him was through the careful and continual observance of the offerings. The regular sacred celebrations served to remind the people of God’s intervention in the past, His provision in the present and His plans for them for the future. The New Testament book of Hebrews gives meaning to these events and explains clearly how Jesus Christ fulfilled these sacrificial demands once and for all.
- Numbers – It is the book about a 40 year pilgrimage. The Israelites went from Mount Sinai to Kadesh Barnea where they could have crossed over into the land of Canaan. Instead, because of fear and unbelief, they spent the next 38 years wandering in a very big circle in the wilderness. Did God give up on them because of their weak faith and obstinate behavior? No, he did not. Instead, he continued to provide for them and to teach them important lessons that would be invaluable for the next generation’s opportunity to go into the new land.
- Deuteronomy – It is the book of counsel and advice from the man who had brought the Israelites from Egypt to the edge of the Promised Land for the second time – Moses. He had just over one final month to prepare this new generation for the experiences that would be ahead of them. His three sermons could be summarized by the following word – REMEMBER. “His counsel was to remember the faithfulness of God in the past, to remember the holiness of God in the present, and to remember the warnings of God for the future.” (C. Swindoll, Living Insights Study Bible) The principles outlined by Moses give us a richer understanding of our God – rich in mercy and compassionate, longing for His children to return His love with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.
Have you ever wondered how these ancient stories could possibly be relevant to people living in our time? The Word of God, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is the unique communication from God to man for all time. The central theme throughout all of Scripture is the Lord Jesus Christ. The Old Testament stories point us to His coming as the Messiah and include many amazing prophecies about His birth, life, and death. The New Testament portrays and explains how He completely fulfilled all that is pictured and anticipated by those who came before. And it has always been “by faith” that people have come to the gracious and merciful God who longs for us to be His children.
Studying the Book of Deuteronomy will open up your eyes and heart to, not only the God who redeemed and empowered His people long ago, but to the very same unchangeable God, who sent THE REDEEMER so that we by faith could be forgiven and given the hope of eternal life, too.